Research Plan : Goals

At this COE we have set our goals as follows:

1. We will carry out research and education programs focusing on the ecosystems that constitute river basins (forests, farmlands, rivers, and urban areas). Our primary targets are the central region of the Island of Honshu centering around Gifu Prefecture’s mountain-ringed and plains regions, pasturelands in the vast interior of Mongolia, irrigated rice field regions in Indonesia, etc. Gifu Prefecture and its surrounding areas will be the most emphasized site for our research program, and we will analyze and assess the functions, spatial distributions, and transitions of various ecosystems involved in a river basin. In addition, we will examine the impact of changes in land usage patterns due to human activities on the surrounding ecosystems.

2. An ecosystem is established by the interactions among its components: living organisms (plants, soil microorganisms, etc.), materials (carbon, nitrogen, etc.), and energy flow. The physical and biological processes that exist in these material cycles and energy flows are called “ecological processes.” To elucidate the roles of ecosystems in shaping the Earth’s environment and the impact of human activities on ecosystems, it is essential to carry out comprehensive analysis of the ecophysiological characteristics of ecosystem behavior performed by plants and soil microorganisms, the spatial distributions and seasonal factors of biomass, and the impact (or interactions) of the living organisms' activities (photosynthesis, respiration, growth, injection of organic matter into the soil, etc.) on the atmosphere, soil, and water systems.

3. To measure and assess the functions of ecosystems, the spatial distribution of the impact of human activities, and time drifting on a regional scale, observation using remote sensing is an essential tool. There are currently several tens of sensors available for such research. Such advanced tools allow us to assess the material dynamics in the atmosphere and soil and the physiological functions (photosynthesis and transpiration) of vegetation. Aiming to provide the most reliable observation, we will carefully select our targeted area and timing in order to yield very detailed information on the ecosystem behavior and its mechnisms in the area, and we will analyze the data collected by remote sensing with the highest precision.

4. It often turns out that the space-time resolution of data obtained by ecological research and remote sensing do not agree as each has specific technical characteristics. Modeling analysis enables an integrated assessment and future forecasting by consolidating information from studies with different time-space resolutions. Connecting such phenomena with different space-time resolution is referred to as scaling. Such models are constructed by integrating the components that comprise the ecosystem, such as the ecophysiological characteristics of living organisms, the chemical composition of the atmosphere/soilsphere/hydrosphere, climate conditions, etc.

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